A teenager with high-functioning autism has been found dead a day after he went missing.
William Wall left home for his daily walk through Melbourne’s Warburton Trail on Tuesday morning, promising he would be back in 15 minutes.
When the 14-year-old had not returned several hours later his dad Shane Wall alerted the authorities.
An impassioned plea for help from Shane saw more than 100 people join the search.
A rescue helicopter scoured the bush from above while motorbike and horse riders raced along the ground.
On Wednesday afternoon William’s body was found in bushland at the end of a residential street less than two kilometres from his home.
Shane, who had earlier said that his son was “pretty hardcore” and knew the area well, broke down in tears at the news.
William’s two older brothers, Jake and Harrison, had been searching all night for him.
Prior to his death Shane had explained how well equipped to deal with the trail his son was.
“I’d put down a 100 bucks he could easily run 25-30 kilometres,” he told Nine, adding that William knew the area well.
“The police, the SES are doing a top job, and people are getting out there and his brothers’ mates are just all over the place,” he said.
The teenager had left home with a hydration pack and some food.
William had dreams of joining the police when he was older and had a younger sister, Sophie.
Shane earlier urged people to look for his son with dogs, which he loved and would find approachable.
Victoria Police said that his death was not being treated as suspicious.
Peta McMillan Kelly was among a number of locals who searched for the boy.
“If it was my child, I’d want as many people in the community coming to help find her,” she said.
The search became urgent overnight when wet and cold weather swept in.
Temperatures dropped to 7C and the trail’s terrain became hazardous.
The young man’s death comes three months after another teenage boy with non-verbal autism was rescued after spending two nights in freezing bushland near Mount Disappointment.
William Callaghan, then 14, was found suffering from exposure and a few injuries, but was otherwise well.